Google Education Groups

There’s an exciting thing in the Google World — Google Educator Groups [GEG ] in each state. We’ve even got one in Washington State:




I just watched the recording of our first virtual meetup, hosted by +Justin Talmadge, with special guests +Andrew Marcinek, +Kimberly Allison, +Jeff Utecht, +Brian Cleary, +Mike Schwab and+Alexandrea Alphonso . It was a great conversation about Google Classroom, Google Sites, Google Docs.

I had planned to attend, but a teacher meeting popped into the schedule. I’m so glad I watched the recording.

I am a classroom teacher [language arts middle school] and the super-admin for our Google Apps for Education [GAFE], which we started way back in 2009 when domains were either public or private, so we are one of the schools with two domains: one for staff and one for students and their teachers. I’m wondering if we should combine those now… as a small school, we could. It would be a lot of work to set that up; as a K-8 School, we’ve set up more restrictions on the student end.

I really appreciate the PSESD’s forward vision, and participated in their CCSSBlog this summer. And I am so thankful for GEG WA.

Our Tech Team carefully compared [in 2009] GAFE and MicrosoftLive [wasn’t it 360 then?] and GAFE was so much further along for collaboration, options, and apps. It was the obvious choice because of that and for one other important reason: Google Sites! Your conversation really emphasized that — we needed to save money and Google Sites became our free district website that was so much more customizable than the expensive platform we were using.

I wish there were a Blogger-edu, but we use Kidblogs and Edublogs for blogging in middle school. But the conversation about portfolios was terrific: What is the purpose? Is there reflection? Is there a capstone project? Is the data portable and interoperable? Because we are a K8 school, it’s not that much of an issue; students who are 13 work with their parents and me to transfer their best stuff to a personal account.

My students love Google Apps; we use Hapara Teacher Dashboard to monitor and quickly provide feedback to student work. Kids in the eighth grade already work with tech that is invisible to what they do — they choose the tool [docs, slides, blog] that fits their audience and purpose, taking care to cite their sources and use Creative Commons images. We are just learning the research tool – that is so awesome. We also use Diigo to highlight and annotate.

I’m so thankful for GAFE because it provides that platform for learning — for sharing and creating not just evidence of learning, but authentic places for student voice, choice, and community or world solutions. Thank you, Google!

A couple other reflections from the conversation:

–Love the search in Chrome’s URL bar

–Love Google Sites

–Agree with Kimberly that the new “ease of use,” consistent drive menu takes getting used to — and the search for documents is limited to whichever space you’re in, which is inconvenient.

–Most of our small staff is reluctant to learn because they haven’t grown up with it, and our previous admin hadn’t made it a priority; I’ve provided links, help, resources as much as possible, but it takes vision and encouragement to change mindsets. Fortunately, our current principal has vision and realizes the benefits of collaboration with GAFE!

Finally, it’s important to keep the vision. Again this year, with new district administration and new fiscal managers who are not current in educational technology and possibilities, that vision must be reviewed; I really appreciate the inspiration from my my Google PLN and new principal!

So find a GEG Group today to keep your vision!


#etmooc #etmchat Anniversary

From Susan Spellman-Cann we continue the gift of #ETMOOC and will enjoy an anniversary event complete with chats and Google Hangouts. Join the Post ETMOOC community and the #etmchat .

What is ETMOOC… Here is Susan Spellman-Cann‘s explanation in HaikuDeck

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad
My HaikuDeck is One Slide about the effect of #ETMOOC

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad


After ETMOOC, I reflected on the experience in a blog post –  Unfinal Reflection, because it truly has been the gift that keeps on giving.

This is my post — revised and updated for today’s anniversary. Revisions are bold and blue.

How do you plan on staying connected to the people and the ideas?

This unfinal post for #etmooc reviews the path I now take with others to continue the journey: #etmooc continues to drop it’s pebble of ideas into the ocean of possibilities, creating ripples of overlapping connections forever spreading and growing.

My own questions and final thoughts:

  • Given the access, technology, resources, and requirements available to me, how can I create a classroom world reflective of what my students need in the future that is theirs?
  • How do I need to adapt my pedagogy to create that classroom?
    • Of course I’m torn between what it seems students need and the reality of our school district’s focus on test success.
    • As I can, technology provides us with reflection and collaboration tools. It helps one class teach another. For instance my sixth grade students created cyber-safety and Google Apps lessons for grade five students. They also, while learning figurative language themselves are creating a resource for other students in our school by collaborating on a Google presentation.
    • In all our online work, we strive to leave positive footprints, practicing our digital footprints.
    • In one class, we are learning with Mozilla on how to code. Our first project was Six Word Memoirs. Code is the language of the future, and we’re beginning to learn to translate! It was a riot: “Change size of text on line 20,” one student would call out, then hop up to guide another students. The puzzle of code unravelled.
    • More and more I learn to share with students the overall goal of our requirements, and students choose the project and details that they require to learn: personalized learning
    • This is not easy to accomplish: the requirements of school’s today are not reflective of the reality of interactions, composition, and collaboration practiced by successful workers and thinkers.
    • Today, I work with a new crew of teacher bloggers who are blogging with their students; we are creating a community for our students to collaborate through blogs: #teach2blog twubs and Google Plus Community
  • How will like-minded teachers connect and collaborate to create connected spaces for themselves and with their students?
  • How will I, as a middle school teacher of language arts, connect with others to ponder these questions, create a space to act on them, and discover together ways to improve education in our own worlds.
    • As a result of #etmooc, not only have a Connect in the Middle Wiki for middle level educators, but several of us have joined in several different communities:
    • Ben Wilkoff started the Open Spokes Fellowship as a result of conversation in #etmooc. He invited a group of teachers who will weekly vlog on topics about education, forming a neighborhood of differences in order to discuss common ground and forge a future that benefits the students we teach. We are raising our voices from separate whispers to a chorus we hope will be heard, shared, discussed, and acted upon by others who likewise wish to move forward in this education transformation.  Thanks to Ben’s leadership and the amazing educators within this group, we continue to vlog!  We also have a Google Plus Reflective Vlog CommunityCheck them out.
    • The Connect in the Middle Wiki for middle level educators did not work out as planned; that’s how life works. Sometimes things take off and sometimes they don’t. For this wiki, the educators moved to their[ our ] passions: GeniusHour Wiki by Gallit, Joy, and Denise. Be sure to check it out.

I thank #etmooc for providing connections to inspiring people, whom I thank here:


I so enjoyed the recorded session with the participants of Jesse Strommel’s DigiWriting #etmooc, A Flurry of Cursors.

Some of us began an Adventure story. ( @mrsdkrebs)

During one session, Darren Kuropatwa asked participants to record and share 5 seconds of video with him viaDropitTOme and then compiled them into this “Beauty” short video. He invited others to Popcorn it !  Here is mine after an inspirational video remix by Rhonda Jessen.

A few of us gathered videos into which I popped this for the group: Where do you learn?

I thank Alec Couros for the #etmooc that reconnected me with Ben Wilkoff who created a Professional Learning Neighborhood in the Open Spokes Fellowship. Please stop by now and then, #etmooc’ers!


#etmooc lives on because:



So although everything has not grown, in everything that was started, we learned, and we shared with our next connections and projects. I’m so thankful for  Susan Spellman-Cann and Rhonda Jesson for keeping us connected. I can’t keep up with you two!
Thanks again  #ETMOOC and #etmchat! It’s all about: Connecting, Collaborating and Sharing  and Celebrating  !

If you didn’t participate in #ETMOOC, please join #etmchat and Post ETMOOC Community to engage with encouraging and creative people!



#nablopomo #nablopomoed #openspokes Day 28 Thankfulness


#nablopomo #nablopomoed  Blog A Day 28 Thankfulness…


… Thankfulness. Today I’m thankful for time to spend with my family — almost out the door for a wonderful visit — and for time to thank my PLN (most can be found on twitter here ) and colleagues for a wonderful 2013.


I’d especially like to thank the Fellowship of Open Spokes for their inspiration this year. I’ve lacked the time to participate much this fall, but plan to jump in again now that our school focus and requirements have been fine-tuned.




Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

#nablopomo #nablopomoed Best About PLN

#nablopomo #nablopomoed Day 14 The best thing about my PLN is…


The best thing about my personal learning network / neighborhood is the relationships. We follow each other on Twitter and in blogs, Google hangout on topics of interest, and join communities in Google Plus and Flickr. We know the interests and issues dear to us, and share, connect, and collaborate on those interests through our connections in these online areas. We celebrate our successes together and we move forward together from failure. We support each other in our projects, often collaborating to make them successful. And we nudge each other to new ideas or revisions. In the rush of our lives in our separate worlds we connect to learn and grow in spots.

What do I mean?  Check it out:

Fellowship of the Open Spokes Channel and Community

a group of educators sharing their world in topics that affect education founded by Ben Wilkoff

Edugood and TFotoFri (this one with Denise Krebs )Flickr Groups [ You may even meet them! ]

#midleved and #geniushour Twitter hashtags — by so many amazing eductors

Making Learning Connected #clmooc — with many of the amazing people of National Writing Project and Connected Learning

Check out the ideas in the vlogs, blogs, tweets, and comments on each of those links and you will read and view the connections among the participants — in and out, here and there, but definitely connections of relationship — of caring and supporting each other.

Then, join in. Because the best thing about your PLN will be the relationships you build.


Hang Out

In photo: Top  Denise Krebs , Kristine Full, Sheri Edwards, Theresa Allen, Tracy Watanabe

Connected Learners and Friends

Spot Image: Spots by Sheri Edwards at Tumblr

Connected Educators Are Learners #ce13 #ooe13

Why connect?

Do you “google” what you don’t know to learn something? Do you connect through a cell phone, texting, Facebook, Google Plus, email, Twitter? If you participate in any two of those questions, you are already connected.

But a connected educator, a connected learner, has a vision. Think about your vision for the future. Imagine a community that grows together, supports each other, learns from each other, and develops solutions and strategies to solve issues and sort through tough times. Imagine that community could be anywhere —

Yes, that community exists now. If you want information, strategies, collaborative partners, just join twitter and shout out yourself or answer others’ tweets. If you want to connect your students, find fellow educators like yourself through twitter chats. See Cybraryman’s (Jerry Blumengarten) twitter chat page for all the educational chats.

From a twitter feed, you can discover links to people, plans, and projects that enhance your own learning, your students’ learning, and your community’s needs.

Today’s teachers are busy implementing the deeper thinking requirements of the Common Core State Standards. They discover that students need to “read” more than texts, and read to analyze and defend points of view, writing clearly to explain and defend their own ideas, and those of their student collaborators. How do we meet those needs? Through connections via blogs, twitter, and wikis so students can share and analyze research while collaborating on projects that demonstrate solutions and build understandings of issues and people. And how do we learn more? How about the Teaching Channel? How about a Common Core Google Community?

So that all students learn digital citizenship of active and positive collaboration, a much needed value today, students need to be connected in such projects. For all students. As part of class, not an extra course or AP Honors. All students can participate.

Really, do you need to imagine that future? It’s here– in the projects above just by participating; we just need to participate. We need to build the equity in education so that all people have equity in opportunity.

How do you start?

Everything in this post has developed because I started on Twitter to connect with my granddaughter, now eighteen. But that one step led me to so many great educators sharing and connecting to find ideas and strategies, projects and plans.  The links at top take you to my posts that show the realities created from the possibilities dreamed from “what ifs” in twitter conversations. My students still talk about their debate with China, their cowmercials with Scott Boylen’s class, and their blog sharing. Brothers and sisters ask, “Do we get to Skype and blog like my brother?”

Welcome to the future; you’re creating that positive, connected, productive vision now. We can’t be silos anymore, behind closed doors. We’re  creating a connected, participatory, collaborative world that works towards shared purposes and shared solutions, for all of us, and for our students’ futures.

Equity. Participation. Production. Purpose.  These are the future, this is today. See Connected Learning to learn more (see infographic below).

Imagine. Then make it real.  See you on twitter @grammasheri !



Connected Learning

Intro #clmooc w #openspokes Transformation Reformation #teachtheweb

clmooc Summary of Report

Summer (northern hemisphere) Thinking: What Could I Learn?

Have you thought of building your PLN (Personal Learning Network)?

Have you wondered how you could change your teaching to be more in tune with how kids want to learn today?

How about joining the clmooc: Connected Learning Mooc? Even if you just lurk and try one or two things, the rest of us will benefit from what you do, and you will learn from the many participators. It’s a win-win game plan!

What is Connected Learning? You can read a wonderful report about it here, which is the source of my notes for  the image at left. For more information, go to this site by . Be sure to watch the John Seely Brown and the intro video for an overview.

 What will I learn?


At the beginning of the year, we often ask students to introduce themselves in various ways. Here’s my Animoto introduction: Bits & Pieces: Sheri  Imagine students choosing images and creating a 30 second video using the pictures on their phone, or take them in class, or find the ones that fit in a creative commons search? Use a computer or smartphone. Think of the skills of choosing concise, relevant images, arranging them to  tell a story, adding text and music? If students use creative commons, they learn to site sources, and how to do a search for material legally available for use. What a great way to start the year, or end  the year with a summary/impression/learning video of how students have changed. Think of the way students could create a video to demonstrate a concept or to document the points of an argument?

In my intro, I chose an easy-listening instrumental and a watercolor splash background so the images could flow. I started out with the places important to me, followed by things from my professional and personal life — books I read, my Art House Sketchbook, student work, my classroom. I switched to my neighborhoods: etmooc, twitter friends, classroom images, collaboration with Denise Krebs, my family and our nature walks. I splattered my teaching philosophy throughout. I ended with more of our favorite places and my family.

It’s three minutes, and with a classroom account, you could do that. But even in 30 seconds with the free account, students can choose one or two images to focus on and support with a few other images and text.

If you haven’t tried Animoto, do try it.  Join the  clmooc: Connected Learning Mooc and share your story with us. Even if that’s all you do, you will have connected with many more people, and learned a tool for use with your students when that type of expression works.

Code !

Want to try some coding?  Chad Sansing created this Mozilla Thimble project to introduce coding while sharing 10 most current books. I chose to share “reading” of blogs, news, and videos to share, because that’s what I’ve been “reading.” Take a look here: My 10-Reads Memoir.

First, I created the image. I took screenshots of 10 of my most current readings. I created a slide in Keynote and dragged the screenshots in. Then I saved the slide as an image, uploading it to Flickr. In Flickr, I added links by choosing the “more” under the picture and choosing “add a note” into which I pasted the URL of each of my “reads”  and placed each in the upper left corner of each picture: Current 10 Reads.

Next, I copied the URL of the Flickr photo, and began to edit the Chad’s thimble project.

When coding, I made a few changes and added in directions to anyone using my work to create their own. When you work in Thimble, the left side is code, and the right side is the preview. The code side contains directions in black within <> to tell you exactly what is needed to be changed to make it yours.

I added some links by copying Chad’s link code and placing it where I needed it.  Always remember that when coding, each code type must be enclosed with in its own brackets. so a paragraph starts with <p> and ends with </p>. Just read the code in the template and start making changes — you can’t break it; just open the link again. See what happens as you add your own code. After you’ve tried a few things, open a fresh page and start your own project. Use the help tips (see directions in the template).

I read the page first and noted what each section created in the preview, remembering to look for the enclosing brackets to know the begin/end of each segment. Knowing that really helps me figure out the code.

I was working in Chrome browser, and when I clicked Publish, it didn’t give me a link. So I copied all the code, then created a Mozilla Webmaker account so I could publish my work under my “makes.” I chose “create” and pasted the code into the template. Then I published the work.

Yes, it’ a learning curve. But it’s a puzzle, a puzzle that you can try and try and fix, then AHA! And isn’t that learning? Build some brain cells: code!

I believe that all kids should learn coding — learn by creating their own. So I plan to create my own Thimbles by remixing those of others, including Chad’s!  Please try.


Online Identities


Avatar: What is your online identity? What will you choose? I chose to be transparent — My avatars are part of the online communities to which I belong, but they always refer to a profile with my real name and usually a picture. I try to create avatars that are a vulnerable me because no one is perfect, and I like my students to know that.

Try out a few of the these from the #clmooc resource, then share why you chose them:

At left: I created this years ago — greying bad-hair day is typical! Glasses, and a “question” in my eyebrows, wondering What Else will we do? I created it with a free Mac avatar app that probably isn’t available anymore  (might be this one)– just Google it.

In the sidebar of this blog is a Voki  created for my class after I tried to get rid of my grey hair (blonde). I was wearing red glasses at the time and I was ready to join the “stars” in my classroom. That is my classroom in the background!  Voki is fun to use; you can get a classroom account. Students can add them to their own blogs to emphasis a point or ask a question of their readers.

Picasso head: You see again the bad-hair day and wondering eyebrows. I’ve got a pencil/brush and am writing/drawing — very fun representative.










 This is created with  Just upload your photo and play with it.

Bad hair day — looking up wondering — a smile.


Reflect curiosity and wonder…

Go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness…


So, how’s that?

Those are just a few of the options — and wouldn’t it be fun to say, “I created that!” And even better, wouldn’t it be fun to say, “My friends and I created that!” That’s what #clmooc is all about: making together. That’s why I joined. I want my classroom to be filled with making learning, connected learning, with my students and I learning together to create — create to enhance our learning goals.I would like art, writing, coding, creating to be an integral part of our time as learners in the classroom.

A few of us are helping each other out; connect with us here:  CLMOOC PLN Group

Welcome to #clmooc ! Who will you meet? What will you create together? How will you create to change your teaching and student learning next year because you are “makers?”

Thanks #clmooc! This is pure inspiration!


Connected Learning Notes image: Notes from Connected Learning Research Report here


#openspokes on Failure, Video Games, and Course Structure
As always, our Fellowship of the Open Spokes inspires me to reflect on improving the learning and teaching in my classroom. This week’s topic is failure, and that has far-reaching implications for both students and teachers. Please look at all the videos.

Joe, @onewheeljoe, discussed failure in video games.

As a person who has never experienced success in a video game, I only feel frustration at even thinking about them. And I cannot see using my time with them. I do understand how others enjoy them.

But I do know that we learn in spite of failure when we know it is possible to succeed, when someone is a cheerleader for us encouraging us to try again, and when the results are important to us. Importance might be fun, or belonging, or helping to improve to make our life better, or to feel in control of our life, or just having choices. Video games often meet those needs.

How do we create a learning community that meets these needs in this test/accountability culture?

How do we show that failure is part of learning?

Perhaps our courses need to be explained as a choose-your-own-adventure story, a series of episodes where participation leads to the next level, and that the choice of episodes is made by the learner, encouraged by peers and teacher, with both individual and collaborative components, all leading through successful demonstrations in each level until the “expert” becomes the mentor to others in a final demonstration of solving, living, and learning the goals of a chosen journey. And the episodes feel possible, and supported, as in games.

Thanks Joe. You’ve given me some things to think about. Has anyone already created a template, a design structure, for this type of course structure?


Reflect curiosity and wonder —
Go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness…